How Should People Visiting Bear Country Behave?
Bears are often afraid or nervous around people. They usually avoid us. Very rarely bears may threaten or attack people, especially when surprised or when forced to defend themselves, their cubs, or their food. You should be careful to avoid all bears. Here are some specific tips:
- Make noise: Let bears know you're there by calling out, talking loudly, clapping your hands, or singing. Some people wear special "bear bells" but these may not make enough noise.
- Travel in groups: Groups are noisier and there is safety in numbers. Never let children wander away from the group.
- Keep your dog on a leash at all times or leave it at home. An unleashed dog may cause a bear to chase it. The dog may run back to you with the bear in tow.
- Stick to worn paths and trails and hike during the day, not at night.
- Watch for bears or for signs of them, including tracks, droppings, torn-up logs, scratched tree trunks, or overturned rocks. Leave the area if you see fresh signs of bears. Don't camp there.
- Keep food (including toothpaste, gum, and candy) and food smells away from bears. Store your food in airtight bags in your backpack and hang it high between trees, 15 feet off the ground. Change your clothes after you've eaten dinner and put your old ones in the car--you don't want to smell like a meal. Don't bury or leave any garbage behind. If you catch fish don't leave bits of it on the ground. Throw fish parts into the stream or lake.
- Avoid areas where you spot possible bear food. If you come across large, dead animals, leave the area immediately. If you're in a park, tell a park staff person of this and of any other possible bear sightings or signs you spot.